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November 13, 2013

News Briefs November 13, 2013

Ordnance cleanup to begin near Fort Huachuca

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon begin removing unexploded ordnance from outside Fort Huachuca, Ariz., within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.

The two sites set for cleanup were once used as military testing ranges. The removal process is set to begin this week and is expected to last through April 2014.

Several locations within the conservation area will be closed to the public while the cleanup is ongoing. AP

Veterans cemetery planned for northern Arizona

An official veterans cemetery is in the early planning stages for Camp Navajo in northern Arizona.
Officials tell the Arizona Daily Sun the burial site would provide a much needed service to military families on the Colorado Plateau.

The only official veterans cemetery in northern Arizona is a nationally run facility in Prescott, and it is has run out of space for full-body burials.

A spokesman for the state Department of Veterans Services, Dave Hampton, says Arizona is pushing to open new veterans cemeteries. He says the Camp Navajo cemetery will be joined by new burial sites in Yuma and Marana.

At Camp Navajo, the Army has already donated land to Veterans Services. Hampton says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has also agreed to fund the project. AP

Hearing set for Kansas refueling tankers

The U.S. Air Force held a hearing in Wichita, Kansas, to gauge public support for McConnell Air Force Base as it considers sites for a new fleet of refueling tankers.

The Wichita Eagle reports the Air Force in May named McConnell as the preferred site for 36 KC-46A tankers to be sited beginning in 2016. McConnell is already the world’s largest tanker base with 62 KC-135s.

The hearing was Nov. 14 at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex on the Wichita State University campus. More than 300 people showed up at a similar public hearing in April.

The siting process also requires an environmental impact study to make sure the base can accommodate the new aircraft. The results of the hearing will be included in the final 500-page draft impact study. AP

Complaints arise over Air Force training flights

Air Force officials met with residents Nov. 12 to discuss complaints over airplane noise from the Air Force Academy’s cadet training programs.

The Gazette reports complaints from residents of the nearby Briargate, Colo., neighborhood have become more frequent since January, when the academy changed its air traffic patterns due to Federal Aviation
Administration concerns.

The FAA notified the academy in late 2012 of new mandates that changed the route of some planes headed to Denver International Airport. The new route put cadets on training flights below Denver-bound commercial jets. That triggered a wider review of academy traffic patterns and changes that put cadet planes out of the path of jets headed to Colorado Springs, too.

The new routes are safer but put more planes in a compact area east of the academy. AP

University of New Orleans will develop map systems for the Navy

The University of New Orleans has been awarded a five-year, $663,000 contract by the Naval Research Laboratory to develop defense mapping systems.

Leading the project are Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor and chair of computer science, and John Finigan, information technology director in the computer science department.

The work will make use of UNO’s expertise in geospatial mapping systems, including satellite photos, sea floor depth, land elevation and roads, Abdelguerfi says.

UNO’s work is expected to enable the Navy to process more map data faster and more cost effectively than systems now in place. AP

Florida announces more than $2 million in grants

Florida is handing out more than $2 million in grants to aid military installations across the state.

Gov. Rick Scott announced last week that seven projects had been awarded Florida Defense Support Task Force grants. The money is being spread among projects in northeast Florida, the Panhandle, central Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

State leaders say the grants show Florida is taking steps to aid its military bases.
Clay County Development Authority is getting two grants totaling $729,000. The money will allow Florida National Guard officials to install an airspace control system and a mass notification system at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.

The Economic Development Alliance of Bay County will receive $500,000 for the construction of a high-capacity data link for a naval support installation in Panama City. AP

Judge sets new date for Navy bribery case hearing

A federal judge in San Diego has decided to delay setting a trial date for a massive Navy bribery case that netted another arrest of a Navy commander this week.

U.S. District Judge Janis Lynn Sammartino Nov. 8 set a new hearing for Feb. 28.
Authorities arrested the third senior Navy official charged in the case, Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 6. He’s accused of accepting prostitution services and other bribes from Singapore-based defense contractor Leonard Francis.

Sanchez’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Charging documents say in exchange for the bribes, the officials gave Francis secret information that helped his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA. The company is accused of overbilling the Pentagon millions of dollars.

Francis, a company manager, Sanchez and the two other Navy officials have pleaded not guilty. AP




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Courtesy graphic

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Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

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